Several articles recently published in The Sun regarding disagreements between black lawmakers over a proposal to have a performance audit conducted at Morgan State University may have raised questions concerning the current state of affairs at the institution.
We, the Morgan State University Board of Regents, believe it is important that the public understand clearly that Morgan is doing well. The university has been measured against the same accountability standards used for every other public college and university in the State of Maryland and it has fared well in such assessments.
In 1998, the Middle State Association, the regional accreditation body for educational institutions, conducted its 10-year review of the campus, concluding that "Morgan is indeed a model of an institution that has reinvented itself." The university satisfactorily completed the most recent legislative compliance audit conducted every two years at all state agencies. Just two months ago, a special team of experts commissioned by the Board of Regents issued a favorable report stating: "The University has not only been restored to its former stature but also increasingly serves as an example for other urban universities across the country seeking to transform themselves. Today, Morgan State University is celebrated by virtually all accounts: accreditation reports, independent studies, national higher education associations, and other institutions across America."
The conclusions of these and other reviews of the university reflect the results of more than a decade of extraordinary change and development at Morgan.
Since the mid-1980s, Morgan's enrollment has increased by 65 percent to 6,200, the qualifications of its faculty and of its entering students have steadily improved and the quality of its academic programs, as measured by external evaluations, has dramatically increased.
Morgan now ranks among the leading campuses in the state in the number of specialized accreditations held by its academic programs. One of the major reasons for the quality improvements on the campus has been the state's sustained commitment to enhancement of the university's facilities, even during the difficult economic times of the early 1990s. Since the mid-1980s, nearly $200 million in construction and renovation projects have been undertaken on the campus and much of the physical plant has been renovated or replaced.
With the university's rapid development, Morgan now graduates more African-Americans with bachelor's degrees than any campus in the state.
Despite its modest size, in key fields of study the university's contribution to the number of African-Americans receiving degrees is impressive. In all science and engineering fields combined, Morgan ranked first in the state in number of bachelor's awards to black students in 1999.
Morgan's productivity makes it one of the leading producers of African-Americans at the bachelor's degree level nationally as well. In 1998, the University ranked among the top 10 campuses in the number of bachelor's degrees awarded to black students in communications studies, computer and information sciences, biological sciences, and psychology and in the top 20 in the physical sciences, education, business, social sciences, and engineering. In that year Morgan ranked first in the number of bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering awarded to African-Americans.
Morgan graduates distinguish themselves not only in the job market but through their high rates of entry into graduate and professional school as well. These graduates matriculate at Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, MIT, Johns Hopkins, as well as several major public research universities. In recent years an average of one-third of Morgan's graduates have entered programs of advanced study immediately following graduation compared to a statewide average of about 25 percent. Morgan continues to rank as one of the leading producers of black bachelor's-degree recipients who complete doctoral degrees at U.S. universities.
Looking to the future, Morgan is well positioned to increase its contribution to Baltimore and Maryland. Paralleling its development at the undergraduate level, the university has launched a major effort to increase the representation of African-Americans among those receiving doctoral degrees. Beyond increasing the number of awards to minority students, development of the university's eight doctoral programs will help the campus to attract increasing numbers of nonblack students and enable it to become as racially diverse as it was in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Morgan's five-year facilities plan, recently announced by the governor, contains nearly $200 million in additional projects for Morgan, including a new library, a new communications center, a research facility, and a hospitality management complex.
The university also plans to spend $40 million on a new student activities center and housing for 600 to 800 more students.
These program and facility enhancements are at the core of efforts to transform the institution into the urban doctoral university mandated by the General Assembly in 1976. With the planned improvements, the state will convert Morgan into a major university complex around which the community can flourish.
In addition to being a major center for quality instruction and research, the campus will be a magnet for community development, better housing, better schools and improved community services. Finally, realization of the vision of a greatly enhanced complex at Morgan will extend to the northeast and other northern Baltimore neighborhoods the excellence in arts and culture that already makes the Inner Harbor and downtown so unique.
Morgan's success is testament to the broad support the university enjoys with the governor, the leadership of the Maryland General Assembly, key committee chairs, and other prominent members of both the Senate and the House of Delegates. All play significant and complementary roles. Some legislators work directly with the governor to get the university's priorities included in his budget. Others help shepherd that budget through the legislative process. These individuals work with the Board of Regents, alumni, community supporters, administrators, faculty and staff to help ensure that Morgan State University continues to grow and prosper. Together we can guarantee that Baltimore has the kind of urban university it badly needs and deserves.
Dallas R. Evans is the chairman of Morgan State University's Board of Regents. His article reflects the sentiment of the entire board.